John Oliver Tackles The Increasingly Unequal Nature Of Voting In American Elections

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From the Washington Redskins naming controversy to whether or not the U.S. Mint’s ongoing production of pennies is a waste of money, American audiences with a premium cable subscription (or their ex’s HBO Go login information) have come to rely on the wit of Last Week Tonight host John Oliver. The comedian’s weekly deep dive has become the stuff of Internet legend (and international relations shenanigans). Hence why, as the country finds itself in the midst of an already volatile election year, Oliver and his writing staff decided to take on the subject of voting.

Specifically, they took on the seemingly endless loop that is state voter ID laws. The sore subject came up repeatedly throughout the 2012 presidential election, and now that the 2016 race for the White House is in full swing, Oliver et al. just wanted to remind everyone that voting can be (and still is) a real pain in the ass for people in some states. Especially if they are African-American or Latino voters in Texas, where third-party studies found that these groups were respectively 1.78 and 2.42 times more likely to lack requisite ID credentials. Not because they were trying to commit fraud, as many voter ID proponents have argued, but because the process necessary to obtain identification is insurmountably ridiculous.

There’s also the matter of so-called “ghost voting,” which the very state legislators who’ve campaigned so much for voter ID reform commit on a regular basis. In other words, people like Wisconsin Rep. Joel Kleefisch and Texas Rep. Debbie Riddle, who were some of the most outspoken fans of their states’ voter ID laws, have voted on behalf of their fellow politicians during house votes on bills, motions and other matters. As Oliver notes, video of the two ghost-voting for their fellows surfaced several years ago. And while the practice is both common and legal so long as certain provisions are met, it still seems a little… off.

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